Monthly Archives: December 2013

Wrapping Up The Year and Starting The Next

This had been a good year for running and biking. It looks like it was my biggest year for both in terms of distance.

Next year the focus will probably be more oriented to running with my first full marathon in April. Before that I have my first official half marathon tomorrow on New Year’s Day. I’ve run lots of them over the years but never entered one. In fact, this time I’m running under my wife’s name so I guess I’m not officially running this either, ha! I shall disable the chip timing in the bib as otherwise I’ll likely set the course record for age group/sex and that would be unfair to the other competitors in my wife’s category.

Last year I ran 835 miles according to mapmyrun, with 143 runs in 113 hrs.

20131231-124940.jpgNot too shabby. You can see from the graph the point that I decided to stop and relearn my running method as the total for the months drops off in May when I started having problems. It has built up steadily towards the end of the year and I am heading into 2014 feeling strong.

I also did quite a lot of cycling this year with 3165 miles of biking. This has been helped by my occasional commute rides to the office. November and December have been bad due to cold temps and early snows, plus some travel that took me away from my bike. Running is so much more portable!

20131231-125412.jpgAll in all it was a good year. I hope yours was as rewarding and that you have plans for the next year too. It has been fun following the other running blogs and getting involved in this community. Stay strong.

More Travel Running and New Shoes

This weekend I’ve gone down to Dallas, Texas with my wife and daughter so that we can take part in a NY eve/day double half-marathon. We didn’t realize the Eagles would be playing down here also, so the planes were packed. I’m not a football fan but it is odd being in another team’s territory.

My legs are fully recovered from the double half-marathons I did on Boxing Day (26th Dec) and I’m champing at the bit to run some more. I also went to see the doc on Monday last week about the infected toe I had and am on a course of antibiotics to clear up the infection. It looks much better and I’m only halfway through the course. You have to take antibiotics courses to completion though, otherwise you are helping to build immunity against the medicine.

After the photos of my shoes last week I went to a running shop to have them perform a gait analysis, and took two old pairs of shoes to illustrate my change in foot-strike (heel to mid foot strike). The consensus of opinion was that the Brooks Beast were probably over correcting my pronation. The wear was pretty bad considering it was just 120 miles!

20131229-200600.jpgThe shop have recommended a couple of different shoes and I chose the Saucony Omnis. It is the first time I’ve changed shoes (brand/model) since I started running in 2007. They don’t look as good as the Beasts, but the torsional flexibility (twisting the shoe) is greater (easier/less resistance). Hopefully this will stop the over correction and reduce the wear on the outer edge of the toe box. The omni’s are also slightly lighter than the Beasts. I’ll give them a try…

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20131229-201210.jpgNote that Brooks have been very gracious and provided me with replacement Beasts which I will also use and see if, perhaps, it was a bad sole on that last pair although that seems unlikely in my opinion.

Second Annual Boxing Day Double Half-Marathon: Part 2

Well, it is done. It hurt. It was cold. My feet are sore. I can’t lift my left leg higher than horizontal. But it is done.

13.1 miles with a pace of 9:03 which is again faster than last year’s second run (9:09 pace). It is very tough to get your legs moving for the second half after they’ve had 5 hours to seize up. Starting out on a half-marathon with your legs and calves already aching is an odd sensation and you have to question your sanity.

I ran my favourite trail from Oaks through Collegeville and up into the wilds. It is a beautiful run alongside a river most of the way on a secluded trail that runs behind a number of big pharma company offices. This is one thing that kept me going. I had to do three thirty second walks once I hit the ten mile mark as the pads of my feet (around the ball of my feet) were sore from the rough surface of the trail.

Now I’ll take a couple of days off and then start to prepare for the next half which is on New Year’s Eve…

Here are the screenshots from the new version of mapmyrun (which works well).

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20131226-182309.jpgAnother year’s stupidity done and dusted.

Second Annual Boxing Day Double Half-Marathon: Part 1

Today is the day that I attempt the crazy double half-marathon which is something that I did for the first time last year and want to make a tradition, although I have no idea why. It involves running one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I started a little later than I would have liked this morning but that did give me plenty of time to take on fuel (read as big breakfast!). I chose a route that is essentially flat. Over the 13.1 miles it varies by about 60ft, however the last 3 miles of the route are ever so slightly uphill. I managed to complete with a 7:57 pace and got back to my car just as the first flakes of snow started to fall from the sky. Last year I did it in 8:01 pace so that is a slight improvement. I seem to recall that it was snowing last year for my run in the morning too. I took water, clif shot blocks (x3) and a clif bar (that I consumed at the finish line).

I ran in my new Sugoi sub-zero tights (thanks to the missis) which worked well and don’t appear to have rubbed me anywhere. It is always risky using new gear on a long run but with temps at 25F (14F feel) I thought it worth the risk.

Now I have to keep my legs loose so that I can run another one this afternoon. And eat a big lunch. I’m looking forward to the run now, but during that first half I found myself counting down the miles to the finish rather than enjoying it.

Hopefully the snow outside will blow through before I have to go out this afternoon…

Coping with Taper

It always feels so odd to be tapering in preparation for a run. For so many other things in life you need to practice up until the last minute, but not with running. You have to take foot off the gas and bide your time. Building your store of energy for the event.

For someone that is addicted to the feel good drugs you get from running it is a tough time. I find myself feeling slovenly and grouchy for no reason other than that I haven’t been out and got my daily hit.

On Friday I tried to go and do a speed session at the local school track, but it turned out that they hadn’t cleared down the snow. It was basically an ice rink. They had partially cleared one lane on one side of the track, but the rest was a death trap. By the time I got back home I’d missed my running slot as it was my wife’s turn to head out. Boo.

Then Sunday I was hoping to go for a cross-training bike ride but rain stopped play. By all reports the trails were filthy from all the snowmelt.

The temps in the Philly area have shot up from the mid20s to the 50-60F. The rain that has accompanied this has removed all traces of the ice and snow that had been with us for well over a week. At least this means I can run on the sidewalks again with the occasional leap to hurdle a puddle. 🙂

So, today I ran in the pouring rain for just three miles with a pace around 8:30. It is seven in the morning because I get to lay in when on holiday and the temp is 58F. Toasty. My, it feels lazy to run such a short distance but I’m glad that this coincides with the Chrimbo holidays.

Now, where did those chocolate truffles get to…

Starting to Taper

With my plan to run two half marathons on Boxing Day I need to start to taper down my distances. Today I did a quick 8.3 miles with a reasonable pace of 7:59. I would have liked it faster but it was 21F and the roads were icy, plus I lost time on one piece of trail that had been ploughed across the entrance, had no melt or clearance on the actual trail, and the exit was also ploughed over. It’s nice when they do that, isn’t it?

I’m now starving and the increased amount of food from holiday parties doesn’t seem to be helping me to contain my appetite. We won a box of wine at a Polly-Anna party at the weekend and that is also going down well. A couple of glasses each night is a luxury we don’t normally have. Ah well, ’tis the season and all that…

A Few Updates in which I Run, Wear Out Shoes, Cycle in Snow and Run Again.

It feels like a long time since I updated this but in reality it has only been two days off. So many things to report on though.

Firstly I got up early on Monday to do a quick run ‘hot on the heels’ of the Sunday 12 miler. It felt okay which is good because it is only a week to my Second Annual Boxing Day Double half-marathon.

After the run I noticed that my shoes were really worn down. Yes, the shoes I started running in on the 19th November and just 106 miles ago! On the toe box at the sides they are completely worn through to the soft plastic.

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20131218-062748.jpgThis is the sort of wear I usually see after 450 miles. So, I contacted the good people at Brooks and sent them some pictures of my shoes, and they are going to send me replacements (hurrah)! My concern is that they said there were signs of ‘over correction’ on the shoe. Has my new mid-foot running style changed the support that I need from my shoe? I guess it is possible, but I assumed that I would still need the same support because my arches are still as flat as a pancake regardless of the way I run. I think I shall take this pair to a decent running shop and try to get some gait analysis done. Perhaps I need to change shoe types after 6+ years.

I also noticed that I seem to have an infected big toe (no pictures on this). Not sure what to do about that, but I had a lot of problems from something similar when I was a child so I shall have to get it sorted out. I think I cut the nail too short and it has become infected through that.

Yesterday I decided to ride to work through the light snow that was coming down. I dug out my old crappy, super-heavy mountain bike ($70 from Toys’r’us many years ago), checked the brakes and gears, deflated the tyres a little to increase surface contact, and then headed out. Most of the roads were fine. The trails through Valley Forge were not treated and had a layer of ice under the light covering of snow, so that made me slide off the bike at one point; no great shakes. It was tremendous fun riding in and I would do it again next time it snows. The roads were empty because the schools had been delayed by two hours so I had very little traffic to fight.

And now, onto today. I could not get my lazy butt out of the warm bed so I laid in for an extra 15 mins which means I had to reduce my run by two miles to allow my wife to get her morning run in too. So a quick bite-sized marathon pace sandwich was on the menu for breakfast. With a pace of 7:46 it was pretty fast especially given that they seem to have stopped trying to clear the snow from the roads now. After five snows in eight days they are letting it sit on the roads and most people have given up on clearing their sidewalks/pavements.

So, that’s all the updates I had. So much seems to have happened in a short time.

Oh Yeah: My Revenge on the Elements

Contrary to my normal behaviour I actually managed to get out later in the day on Sunday and squeeze in a nice Long Slow Distance run of 11.8 miles. Lots of hills. Lots of snow, ice and slush. Mainly courteous drivers and now feeling a whole lot better. 1900 ft of gain and 8:23 pace which includes stopping to take photos as my phone didn’t pause the run.

I was miserable that I couldn’t get out this morning and that’s why I forced myself out this afternoon. I guess that just means that I am addicted to the endorphins and serotonin from running. Oh well, there are worse things I could be addicted to.

I took a couple of pictures of some icicles while I was out there for my daughter.

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I also took a panorama of where I’d come from and where I was headed.

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Beaten by the Weather: Failure to Launch

Finally I have conceded to the weather. Yesterday saw a 4 inch layer of snow that was followed by an ice storm. The paths I scraped down last night are death traps and the roads around here haven’t been cleared yet. I hate being beaten like this. Boo. Third snow storm within six days and very early in the season.

Maybe I can run later once the sun comes out and starts to melt the ice off the top…

Trials of Ice: Trails of Ice

Another cold LSD run today. 12 miles at an 8:45 pace which is not bad considering 6.5 miles were on snow and ice where trails had not been cleared. I ran through the Lower Providence Valley Park which is part of the Perkiomen Trail, and the Schuylkill River Trail between Oaks and Phoenixville Reynolds Dog park. The biggest problem with this route is that the last 2.5 miles home are all uphill. They are a drag at that point in the run!

I had four ‘oh shit’ moments while I was out there where the snow beneath my feet became icy. It is also hard to maintain running form (mid foot strike) when you are running in snow or putting your feet onto ice.

I’m also finding that I’m pretty tired after running 26 miles in three days. I hope that gets easier as I progress through the marathon training.

One of the houses along the route had a massive fire last night. At least three fire trucks were headed there. I hope all were okay.